For the first time ever, an all-women group of porters, tour leaders, and clients will trek together to Machu Picchu. The Evolution Treks team is setting off on their journey on March 30, just in time to end Women’s History Month on a high note. Jessica Poitevien
“I’m excited because a pure women’s group means things are changing. We are proving we can do it without men,” Lucia Merclajuly Vela Sosa told Lonely Planet. She’ll be participating in the trek as a tour guide, along with a second leader and between eight to 10 porters.
The porters—most of whom are indigenous Quechua women who live in small towns along the Inca Trail—will carry 33-pound (14.9 kilograms) packs of camping and cooking equipment for the entire trip. According to Lonely Planet, the group originally planned to hike for four days along the Inca Trail, but recent government restrictions mean they’ll have to take a different route. Instead, they’ll start on the Inca Trail at KM102 and then transition to the Salkantay Trail.
Although ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions may still force them to alter the route, the current plan will lead the group on a five-day trek. Using equipment carried by the porters, the group will set up camp alongside the trail every day so they can eat, rest, and spend the night before continuing on the following day.
Beyond breaking stereotypes about who can accomplish this type of physically demanding work, the all-female trek also aims to support women against workplace discrimination, allowing them to earn a fair wage. The porters on this trip will be paid the same as men—$87 (INR 6,333.64) for a five-day trek plus tips. Women in Peru typically earn $10 (INR 728) a day, Lonely Planet reports.
Until 2017, only men worked as porters along the many trails that lead to Machu Picchu. That’s when Evolution Treks, followed by other companies, began contracting women as porters and guides.
“We hope to do this every two weeks in 2021,” Miguel Angel Góngora Meza, co-founder of Evolution Treks, told Lonely Planet. “And every week or more in 2022. There’s a lot of interest in this.”
But Evolution Treks doesn’t only hire female porters; they also advocate for better treatment of all porters, including higher wages and improved trailside living conditions. For more information on the company, visit their official website here.
Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but she’s always on the lookout for her next adventure. Besides travelling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.